Fact and Fiction


This project will look at ways to teach research and citation skills to third through fifth grade students by way of teaching their teachers. I will begin this outline by clarifying what specific skills and information I believe my teachers will need in order to be successful at teaching these media literacy skills to their students. I will then outline what ways I will assess the teacher’s understanding. Finally I will outline the specific lesson and tasks that will take place over my 2 hour training. 


The target group of this lesson is third through fifth grade teachers. I have chosen this group because I have had a request to cover this topic by these specific teachers. I work as an Ed Tech Advisor in my district and I have the privilege of holding a 2 hour training on an educational technology skill or tool once a month. The topic of research, and in particular, selecting and citing appropriate sources, has been a topic that has been requested this year. It’s an interesting group to be aiming this lesson for as most students in third through fifth grade are conducting guided research projects with a topic or a search tool selected by the teacher, but they are generally learning how to select their specific sources independently, thus it’s the perfect time to bring this skill up as a staff to create common expectations (or at least a through line of expectations from third to fifth grade), as well as a common vocabulary when we ask for a citation. Often in younger grades we speak of “giving credit” and ask only for a name of the author, or the URL copy and pasted. In third grade we begin asking for both, plus maybe the name of the website or organization. All of this will eventually lead to the Middle School standards of full MLA citations and appropriate reference documents.

Established Goals 

ISTE Standard for Educators  

2.3 b: Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency. 

ISTE Standard for Students  

1.3.a: Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits. 

1.3.b: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources. 


  • Teachers can instruct students in the use of 2-3 research databases (SafeSearch Kids, Explora Primary via AK Sled, Alaska Digital Archives) 
  • Teachers can share 3-5 key prompts with their students to help determine if a source is reliable 
  • Teachers can model and guide a student to use a graphic organizer to document their research process 

    Essential Questions 

    • How do I know something is true? 
    • How do I know where someone got their information? 

    Students will know 

    • Teachers can clearly define a high-quality source 
    • Teachers can name 3 digital research databases/tools 
    • Teachers can provide graphic organizers to students to support independent research 

    Students will be able to 

    • Teachers can locate high quality sources themselves 
    • Teachers can efficiently use digital resource databases/tools to find artifacts 
    • Teachers can support student research by asking probing questions, reviewing graphic organizers to monitor progress, and creating and using rubrics to assess student work. 

    Performance Task 

    The major work of this lesson will be to create a rubric for a research assignment the teacher will be assigned. These rubrics are an authentic task and by creating them together they can provide each other feedback and gain understanding by reviewing what their colleagues have deemed worthy of noting. The additional benefit of this task is that while each teacher will have a tailor-made rubric that fits exactly their content area and grade level, they will also have a broader understanding of what their students are expected to know and do as they transition to other grade levels. 

    Other Evidence 

    I will ask teachers to practice their skills of using these three databases by having them complete a “relay race” where they need to work as pairs or trios to answer questions modeled after the A Google a Day lesson plans as quickly and efficiently as possible while also citing their sources using either MLA or APA notation by hand. This task will give them time to review Keywords, choose databases with care, and cite their sources with evidence. I will ask them to record three keywords they used for their search, I will ask them to circle what database they used, and I will ask them to cite their specific source. I will be looking for efficient searching (narrowing or widening keywords as needed), appropriate tool use, and accurate citations which are from credible sources. 

    Student Self-Assessment and Reflection 

    In addition to the activity and rubric I will ask teachers to reflect on the following questions: 

    -How do I know if something is factual online? 

    -How do I know where my students got their information? 

    -How does my rubric do at assessing my student’s understanding of research and citations (on a scale of 1-5)? 

    -What other support would I like when I’m conducting research with my students? 

    WHERETO Key 

    This project has been created using a model from the Understanding by Design book. In that book it is recommended to use the WHERTO framework to ensure important aspects of the project outline are included thoughtfully (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p 198). Here is the key to that framework.

    W – Where and Why, make the goals evident, why do we need to know this? Where is this headed? 

    H – Hook, introducing the essential question, engage the students in something compelling like a game perhaps, but make sure it’s meaningful and relevant. 

    E – Explore, Experience, Enable, Equip. Provide that foundational knowledge. 

    R – Reflect, Rethink, Revise. How will you structure reflection and encourage students to revise their understanding? 

    E2 – Evaluate. Guided self-reflection, self-assessment. 

    T – Tailor and personalize. Allow for differentiation and accommodations. Could be content, process, or product. 

    O – Organize the process. Does the learning process flow to create a complete picture of the essential question? 


    Description of Activity


    10 Minutes

    Start with a series of statements on the board. H 

    • There is a species of fish that can live for over 100 years. 
    • The tallest building in the world is located in a city that is below sea level. 
    • There is a language spoken by fewer than 100 people in the world that uses clicks instead of vowels. 
    • The longest river in the world flows entirely within one country’s borders. 
    • There are no images from the first five years of the Fur Rondy celebration. 

    I will ask the teachers to consider what they would need to see to know if these statements were true or not. W 

    I would ask them to create an outline of a checklist to decide if a statement is true on a shared Jamboard. W, T

    • Jamboard
    • Questions on whiteboard

    10 Minutes

    Present ISTE Standards 1.3.a and 1.3.b. W 

    (Re)Introduce the three tools for doing research. E 

    Ask teachers to add more notes to the Jamboard as we go, noting when and how to use each tool. E, W, O 

    Finally, demonstrate how to record a citation in MLA format using each of these tools. E 

    • Jamboard continued 
    • Links to resources 
    • Recording form for citations 

    20 Minutes

    In a relay style game, partner teachers up in pairs to prove or disprove each of the statements on the board.  They will need to share the keyword(s) they used, circle their database used, and record the specific source using MLA formatting. H, E 

    • Recording Form (see below) 
    • Timer 

    10 Minutes

    As a pair, have teachers reflect and add to their Jamboard from the beginning. What do they need to see in order to know a statement is true or false? E2, R 

    • Jamboard continued 

    15 Minutes

    Share with the whole group. Create a shared understanding and a group checklist. E2, W 

    • None

    10 Minutes

    Discuss what challenges each group faced when completing the challenge. How could they support students to avoid or work through some of those challenges? R, E2, O 

    • Jamboard continued 

    10 Minutes

    Modify the group checklist to match the needs of their specific students. This is solo work. T, W 

    Share their completed checklists or rubrics with the whole group by placing them in a google drive folder. T, W, R 

    • Jamboard continued 
    • Google Drive Folder 

    5 Minutes

    Ask staff to fill out a quick exit ticket: R, T, W, O 

    • Exit Ticket (see below) 


    The process of working backward from what I want my students (teachers) to know and then designing my tasks and process to check for that specific learning was well suited for this situation as it comes from a problem of practice in my life. I’ve had teachers share that when students want to know how tall Denali is, they say, “hey Siri, how tall is Denali?” and she will quickly speak back “According to National Geographic, Mount Denali is 20,310 feet tall”. The students will then write down, “20,310 feet” and call it a day. When asked for a source, they will often say “Siri” or even “Google”. This was my impetus for this project; to help teachers develop more strategies for teaching the value of citing sources (because it helps to verify the credibility) and the means to do that with a group of 10-year-olds (using databases and refining keywords and search criteria). I feel hopeful that this lesson will be engaging for my teachers, will help to review or renew an interest in using databases with their students, and will give them a tool they can walk out of my room and into their classrooms with the very next day. I would be interested in seeing how this lesson went for those teachers when they got back to the classroom and hear how their students were able to put these skills into practice. As an extension, I would like to explore how we can investigate the credibility of videos online, podcasts, and other forms of social media online, although I believe that topic would be more suited for a slightly older group of students.  


    Wiggins, G., & McTighe, Jay. (2005). Understanding by design (Expanded 2nd ed., Gale virtual reference library). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

    “Lesson Plans – Search Education.” Google, Google, https://www.google.com/insidesearch/searcheducation/lessons.html.


    Relay Race Recording Forms

    Exit Ticket

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